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Exhibition Review: “Pioneers of Trip to Nowhere”

“These artists are part of a movement, of a greater collective, which has enriched the arts with new experiences, both for artists and for art consumers.

The central concept of the exhibition is the context; the street, the public space, and the descriptions of different situations taken and put on display by each artist. We are witness to how they are affected by this space, how they process it, and what historic events get recreated in their memories.

They give back to the streets something of what they receive from it, bringing something of the outdoors in, in order appreciate anew our common meeting place, the public space.”

– From the curatorial text of the Francisco Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts

On May 19 not one, but six exhibitions opened in the Francisco Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts. However, we were interested in one in particular. Curated by Kosovo Gallery, the exhibition “Pioneros de un viaje a ningún lado,” (Pioneers of a Trip to Nowhere) brings together a group of artists who are the first representatives of the urban art movement to set foot in Cordoba’s museum of Fine Arts.

The night of the opening the room was packed with a sea of animated people flowing past the various works spanning Museum Hall 5. But despite the warmth of the crowd, it was cold because Nicolas Romero Escalada, also known as Ever, froze his work. Literally. On the back of his large-scale portrait, which he called “Idealism as a metaphor applied to reality,” there is a cooling system that maintains the low temperature that has created the ice chunks seen on the face of the protagonist. Approximately 29.4% of the work is frozen and this represents the percentage of children in this province living below the poverty line (according to a survey of the Catholic University). This data is blood-chilling. So is the artwork. This installation is accompanied by a looped projection of a sort of modern Christ (the actor Carlos Rogers) who walks through the city under the weight of the Communist symbol. We see again and again how this suffering man drags his modern cross in front of the eyes of society.

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Nico Romero alias Ever “Metáfora del Idealismo aplicado a la realidad” (Idealism as a metaphor applied to reality)
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Detail of “Idealism as a metaphor applied to reality”

Julián Manzelli is also known as Chu, and since his beginnings in Doma (the mythical art collective), his artistic vision has always had a playful spin. However, behind his affable character creations, our cultural identity is analysed. This time, the artist presents “Urban anomalies and the development of a circle.” Representations of those urban landscapes where concrete planning is overcome by spontaneously generated improvisation. The “urban absurd”, as the artist calls them, are pieces that unfold on the table, breaking the schematic monotony, challenging perspectives and appealing to error and genius at the same time.

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Julián Manzelli alias Chu “Urban anomalies and the development of a circle”
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Detail of “Urban anomalies and the development of a circle”
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Detail of “Urban anomalies and the development of a circle”

Tec is a local artist who divides his time between Brazil and Argentina. He knows very well what happens in the street, as he has never stopped painting its walls. He knows their history, and both their roots and that of thousands of Cordobeses, are the inspiration for the reflection “Watch your Head”. This is an installation that covers the entire wall in which workers’ texts and helmets are interwoven. Tec draws our attention to a key moment in the history of Córdoba: The Cordobazo and general unity of the labor movement with the students. An interesting fact: Tec has family members who were part of the worker and student resistance, and it is this close connection that continues to drive him out into the streets.

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Tec “Cuidar la Cabeza”
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Detail of “Cuidar la Cabeza”

A third wall addresses the history of the province of Cordoba in a piece by Franco Fasoli, also known as Jaz. One of the pilars of Jaz’s work is the identity and violence found in different cultures. This time, Franco Fasoli takes the confluence of the past and the present as the place from which the painting rethinks the construction of identity. The contrast of images evokes the determination and ability to face giants. In this case the local neighborhood Alberdi gives rise to the piece entitled “First free territory of America”, which was created with the assistance of the locals. Once alone with the work, Franco Fasoli added finishing touches and, upon completion of the show, the work inspired by the streets will be reinstated back to its home.

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Franco Fasoli alias Jaz “Primer territorio libre de América” (First free territory of America)
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Detail of “First free territory of America”

The last installation that is part of Pioneers, also belongs to a local artist: Elian Chali. This artist’s works are a constantly evolving exercise because they are holistic compositions created within the public space, which are at one with their surrounding environments. “Urban Hygiene” proposes a reflection on the mechanisms that determine the collective behavior, and and the ways in which the public then reinterprets these mechanisms. It invites citizens to question the elements which, in their place of origin, make up the parameters of the concept of living, which allows the reconfiguration of its transient role, of its public morals, ultimately recognizing their domain.

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Elian Chali “Hygiene Urbano” (Urban Hygiene)
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Elian Chali “Urban Hygiene”

So there they are, the Pioneers of a trip to nowhere. They have come this far and we can not wait to see what their next destination is. Be sure to check out this amazing exhibition at the Francisco Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts in Cordoba before it closes on July 28th.

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Words by Ana Laura Montenegro

Images by Daniel Luján, courtesy of the Francisco Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts